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Meeting ID: 810 6981 1186
Palomino is the grape behind Sherry and it is enjoying a quiet revolution with dry, flavourful sherries overtaking sweetened mass-market wines and the emergence of unfortified table wines that defy expectations. In this tasting we try two bone dry sherries in very different styles from producers who are leading the way in reviving the reputation of this most misunderstood wine. Gabriela Manzanilla is all about the salty tang of the sea and the gentle chamomile flavours of ageing under yeast in the seaside town of Sanlucar, while Fernando de Castilla's Oloroso from inland Jerez is rich, oily and nutty. Finally we break the mould with a dazzling unfortified white made as part of a collaboration between Alejandro Muchada of Cadiz and cult Champagne producer David Léclapart. A game-changing trio.
South Africa is one of the most exciting places to buy wine right now with a host of young growers constantly innovating, experimenting and bringing out the potential of the country's diverse vineyards. Covid has also hit South Africa's wine industry hard. With a fourth ban on alcohol sales having only been lifted this week, South African wineries have faced a crippling year so there is no better time to support their endeavours and buy South African wine. With that in mind we are taking a whistle-stop tour of three wines from three different regions. We start with chenin blanc, a grape that has made South Africa its second home having been brought there centuries ago by Dutch settlers, and which often shows a richness and intensity here that makes it more than a match for the great chenin blancs of its homeland in the Loire. Then we turn to cinsault, a grape that is hard to master, but which in the right hands has something of the fragrance and lightness of pinot noir with a smoky, woodsy edge that is all its own. Finally we taste a Rhone blend from the very talented John Seccombe that is so silky, lifted, and ethereal that it sends the mind more readily to Burgundy than to Chateauneuf du Pape. These are great wines and they are going from strength to strength. There's never been a better time to discover and get behind them.
With its ancient Cathar fortresses perched on craggy citadels commanding the arid hillsides and looking dreamily to the blue Mediterranean beyond, Languedoc has an eerie, rugged splendour and a sense of being lost in time quite different from the elegance of Provence on the other side of the Rhone river. From the simple pleasures of lip-stinging Picpoul to the fortified wines of Maury and Banyuls, winemaking is as varied as it is ancient and we have chosen three wines from different parts of Languedoc that highlight the richness of this region. The white is a return to our shelves for trailblazing Roussillon producer Le Soula. Full-bodied and intense it captures the hot rocks and dry slopes of this dramatic landscape. Then to the reds with a juicy, fruit-driven Corbieres and a fabulously meaty syrah from the poetically named Pic St. Loup.
At the start of the summer we looked at quirky rosés that broke the rules, but now that it is high summer we need the blushful pink wines of Provence and the Mediterranean that are made for pure pleasure and languid relaxation. We start with Rimauresq, a benchmark estate for Cotes de Provence, and a cru classé no less. With its gentle hint of cantaloupe melon and its fine dry finish, this is textbook summer drinking. Then we move inland to Vacqueyras in the southern Rhone for a more robust, spicy style of rosé that has something of the warmth of the dry hillsides where the vines are grown. Finally we break out of Provence for a fresh, salty rosé from Roussillon that makes us crave the glorious seafood of the vermillion coast. Linen jackets and straw hats at the ready for a celebration of summer's simple pleasures.
It is easy to see why one well-known wine list in London calls pinot noir the heartbreak grape. Haunting perfume, weightless delicacy but persistence, power and focus are the signatures of this most beguiling of vines. Beyond its ability to break hearts by its beauty, it can also break bank balances when it comes to the great wines of Burgundy which are increasingly sought after. However, with beautiful pinot noir being grown all over the world, and even in the less well-known vineyards of Burgundy itself, there is still great value to be had and for this tasting we have hunted out three of the best that we have uncovered in recent months. An energetic, brightly-fruited wine from Martinborough on New Zealand's North Island gets us underway before we cross to South Africa's Western Cape for a lifted, orange-scented pinot that exemplifies the grape's capacity to be both aerial and intense. Finally we return to pinot noir's ancestral home in Burgundy with a Mercurey from the Chalonnaise area, just south of the storied vineyards of the Cote d'Or, a wine that is full of savoury, autumnal flavours that classicists will love.